How a College Consultant Can Help Your Child Navigate the College Admissions Process In the Age of COVID-19

How a College Consultant Can Help Your Child Navigate the College Admissions Process In the Age of COVID-19


Applying to college can be an emotional roller-coaster for students and their parents, and that is in the best of times. The COVID-19 era has added a whole new layer of uncertainties into what was already an uncertain process: how will spring 2020 transcripts be evaluated by admissions officers; will standardized testing be available and in what form; will campuses be open this fall for visits?  As the application process has become even more mystifying and anxiety producing, some families may find it helpful to seek additional guidance from a knowledgeable professional with experience in admissions counseling.  College consultants provide individualized attention and are committed to finding colleges that are a best fit for the students with whom they work.

Before hiring a professional independent college consultant, here are some things to consider:

  • What training does the consultant have?  Many independent educational consultants have prior experience working in either a college admissions office or a high school college counseling office. Others have enrolled in certificate programs or training institutes sponsored by professional associations. 
  • Does the consultant keep up with new trends? Most independent consultants visit at least 20 college campuses a year and meet at least monthly with admissions representatives.
  • Does the consultant belong to any professional organizations? Professional organizations have rigorous standards for membership and member consultants are expected to adhere to the ethical guidelines established by these organizations. Membership in a professional organization is an excellent way to vet consultants.
  • Does the consultant attend conferences and workshops? Professional organizations offer seminars at conferences as well as webinars and online courses that are important for continuing education.
  • Are the consultant’s fees in writing and specific? A consultant should explain exactly what services you will be getting in exchange for their fee.

In the wake of the Varsity Blues scandals, families may be concerned about hiring an independent consultant. Here are some “red flags” or “warning signs” – signals that you do not want to hire this person as an educational consultant:

  • Does the consultant offer guarantees or money back promises? Do not trust any offer of guarantees.
  • Does the consultant offer to fill out your child’s application or re-write essays? The application needs to be your own child’s work!
  • Does the consultant offer to use  “connections” to help your child secure admission to a particular school?  This is a violation of ethical standards.
  • Does the consultant claim to be able to “package” your child in a way that will appeal to an admissions office? Admissions officers can see through efforts to package your student – I know, I was one!
  • Does the consultant rely on the idea that because they “helped their own child,” they can help yours too? A professional consultant has experience and training and does not become an expert merely by helping their own children in the college application process.

There are many qualified professional educational consultants, just as there are many outstanding colleges and universities. The key is finding someone you, and most importantly your child, feels comfortable with and likes – an educational consultant will spend a considerable amount of time with your child, getting to the heart of their personality, extra-curricular interests, academic qualifications, and aspirations. 

After the consultant learns as much as they can about your child, the consultant will create a list of “best fit” colleges and will help your child complete a polished and cohesive application that is crafted with authentic storytelling. An educational consultant will also advise your child about when to take standardized tests (a tricky issue at the moment) and how to choose enriching summer experiences (also a tricky issue at the moment), as well as help prepare your child for on-campus or alumni interviews.  

As any professional consultant will tell you, the goal is more than merely being accepted to college: it’s about finding the right fit institution where your child can thrive. I have real experience evaluating college applications - prior to launching my own business, I was an application reader in the Princeton University Admissions Office, where I read thousands of undergraduate applications. I can demystify the process and help your child navigate the college application journey with a clear head and focused purpose instead of anxiety and stress, even in these very uncertain times.

Kate Sonnenberg

KS College Success


Instagram/Facebook: @kscollegesuccess

LinkedIn/Twitter: @katesonnenberg

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